Monday, October 10, 2016

It's a mystery

CBS News: "NFL Ratings Set To Drop Again In Week 5 As NFL Downplays The Problem."


Nielsen Muntz said...

No one in television thinks that the anthem kneeling protest is wrecking the ratings.

Ratings for the 2016 Olympics were down 15%, and worse in the prime advertising demos. This year's Oscars had its lowest viewership in eight years. NASCAR is down. The NBA is down. Hockey is down. Pro wrestling is down. The UFC is down. The 2016 Super Bowl, Peyton Manning's last game, was down from the 2015 rating. (Baseball was up, a little bit.)

This is TV now. With "cord cutting," even the number of U.S. households with television is falling, for the first time in history.

But what if Colin Kaepernick really IS singlehandedly shrinking the ratings of all NFL games, including the 95% of games he isn't playing? What do you suggest the NFL do about it?

Roger Bournival said...

Nielsen - I agree, partially. I got rid of NFL Red Zone three weeks over the Kaepernick pretending to be the next Rosa Parks, so it is out there. If I didn't have a roommate, I'd probably have cut the cord entirely by now.A

Eric said...

"NASCAR is down". Boy, and how. Pretty soon they're going to move the races to CSPAN3.

But I also think about, for example, the 1994 (5?) baseball strike where, IIRC, it took MLB a long time to get their ratings back to normal. I think a lot of Americans just want to see sports and get mighty annoyed when multi-millionaire players throw a tantrum.

Nielsen Muntz said...

I also think about, for example, the 1994 (5?) baseball strike where, IIRC, it took MLB a long time to get their ratings back to normal.

Actually, the ratings held up fine. By chance, the two World Series before the strike and the two World Series after it were each six games in length. That's helpful because World Series ratings fluctuate a lot depending on the length of the series (7 games always beats 4 games).

TV ratings:
1992 World Series: 20.2
1993 World Series: 17.3
1994 World Series: cancelled
1995 World Series: 19.5
1996 World Series: 17.4

In the twenty years since, though, the World Series has never again seen a 17 rating. (Undoubtedly, the Yankees' comeback in 1996 permanently shattered something beautiful in America.) Seven of the last eight WS have been at 10.0 or below.

Where the 1994 strike had an effect was on live attendance. 1993 had had the highest attendance in baseball history. A sixth of the fans didn't show up when baseball came back in 1995. It took until 1998 for baseball attendance to return to its 1993 level, or 2005 if you go by per-game attendance. But once repaired, attendance has been very steady for MLB, with all 15 of the top overall attendance totals coming in the 21st century, and 14 of the top 16 per-game totals. This live turnout has happened even while TV ratings (regular season and playoffs) have slipped. (However, viewership went up a couple of % in 2016, nothing much except in comparison to other sports.)

Nielsen Muntz said...

All of which is a statistics-filled way of saying that ratings ain't what they used to be. And that the only kneeling that might show up in the NFL's ratings is the owners getting down and praying.

Eric said...

OK, maybe I was thinking of live attendance.

I will say this: I was on a website (think it was ESPN) talking about the drop and numbers and the NFL blaming it on the election season. The comment section, as a minimum, pretty emphatically made it clear it was not the election.

Nielsen Muntz said...

It's not the election, or the protest kneeling, or the hurricane, or regret over Brexit, or creepy clown sightings. The NFL ratings are part of the new state of television viewing in which nearly all boats sink. Most likely that's combined with some bad, incremental variance. You'd have to guess NFL ratings will pick up a bit, though college football is also down, so who knows? Here are some other possible factors:

*The 2015 NFL had its record high ratings-- easier to go down than up from that;
*Baseball is up slightly, it's pennant race time, and MLB is probably not siphoning viewership from the Food Channel;
*A lot of bad NFL matchups and playing time for backup QBs (hi, Colin!) so far;
*The Rams are getting terrible numbers with the non-fanbase in their new-old-new hometown, which is also the #2 TV market;
*Tom Brady spent a month getting a tan; Peyton Manning is in the jokey advertising business now;

And the scariest possibility from the NFL's point of view:
*Heavy attention to concussions is going to be bad, bad business for the NFL.

In 1995, baseball fans were staying home but watching the broadcasts. In 2016, they're going to the games but their TVs are off. Figuring out what's "happening" to sports fan interest and why always requires a bit of alchemy and guesswork.

Eric said...

Good points.